Saturday, September 10, 2005

Powell speaks out on Iraq


COLIN POWELL, the former US Secretary of State, harshly criticised the Bush Administration yesterday for its failures in Iraq, calling the country a mess and voicing concerns that it may slide into civil war.

General Powell, who left the Administration in January, also said that his speech in February 2003 to the UN, making the case for war, was a painful blot on his record.

Making his most damning remarks about the conduct of the war since he was replaced by Condoleezza Rice, General Powell criticised the White House and Pentagon for their post-war planning and failure to send sufficient troops.

Asked in an interview broadcast on ABC whether he regretted his support for the war, he replied: “Who knew what the whole mess was going to be like?” He added: “What we didn’t do in the immediate aftermath of the war was to impose our will on the whole country, with enough troops of our own, with enough troops from coalition forces, or by recreating the Iraqi forces, armed forces, more quickly than we are doing now.

“And it may not have turned out to be such a mess if we had done some things differently.”

Ah, but they didn't do things differently, and Powell, whatever he says now in retrospect, was one of them. I was for the war, at first, largely because reputable and respected people like Powell and Tony Blair were for it. Simply put, I trusted them, and, like many other liberal hawks, I found Powell's February 2003 speech to the United Nations utterly convincing. There is still much to admire about Powell, and I still consider him to be an admirable and honourable man, but that "blot" on his record -- that speech and his support for a war that went badly wrong -- won't be easily erased. Or forgotten.

Note: Powell was interviewed by Barbara Walters on ABC's 20/20. Here's the article from ABC News, with a good account of the interview.

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  • Poor poor Colin... This is a man who could have provided some integrity and some dignity and some leadership within the US Administration. I think he's probably still a good man at heart, but this loyalty at all costs BS has done him in. Our loss.

    By Blogger Gary, at 12:10 PM  

  • When Powell made his infamous "presentation" on WMD, I wouldn't go as far as to say I didn't believe him - so I am not saying, "I told you so". But an alarm bell did go off in my mind: wait a minute, they want to find a justification for war, so even if their information may not be outright wrong (as it turned out to be!), at the very least it is likely to be exaggerated. Not to mention the fact that the UN inspectors were giving an entirely different story. Forgive me for an ad hominem remark, but as a liberal shouldn't you be suspicious of whatever our leaders say, even if they are "respectable"?

    As for Powell criticising the Bush Administration, it's clear that the people he's really criticising are Rumsfeld and Defense. So is it principled argument or merely sour grapes that he lost a bureaucratic battle of influence?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:46 PM  

  • I think Powell is an honorable man, but I also think he is using this honor as a cover to blame others for his shortcomings. I always felt that Powell spent most of his time as Sec of State sticking his head in the sand and sulking about how no one listened to him. He didn't try to push his point of view forcefully--I don't know if it was loyalty or just a desire not to get his hands dirty. Whether he could have won out is a debatable question, but he could have tried harder than he did. It reminds me a bit of McNamara who hid his doubts about Viet Nam until 30 years later when it did no good. And Powell's performance as Secretary of State left a lot to be desired--he apparently did not like to travel which seems to me to be a problem in that position. At least Rice seems to be proactive--Powell seemed more interested in projecting his dignified image than in actually accomplishing anything.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:10 PM  

  • The simple fact is, Harry Bellafonte was right about Mr. Powell. Nuts on.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:13 AM  

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